Leaving aside for the moment Obama's policy positions, does anyone still think that he's too passive/failing to lead/afraid to confront Republicans? In a sense, he is out-crazying them: embracing negotiation under the debt ceiling sword of Damocles as a "unique opportunity"; insisting on a $4 trillion grand bargain; promising to veto any short-term debt ceiling fix; and, via Geithner, ruling out a "14th Amendment solution" in which the Treasury simply ignores the debt ceiling. Insisting under all these conditions that he will not agree to any deal that does not raise new revenue is brinkmanship in the extreme. In fact, we seem to be headed straight over the brink.
I do not find it all disturbing that Obama is looking at "trimming" Medicare and social security spending. His own deficit reduction plan proposed new Medicare savings, chiefly by mandating that the Independent Payment Advisory Board hold spending growth to a lower cap. As for social security, every deficit reduction plan out there draws on a menu of benefit shavings and tax hikes, prominent among them slowing down COLA increases by way of a "chained" CPI.
What does continue to disturb is the low ratio of tax hikes to spending cuts in Obama's proposals. As I noted yesterday, this may be a matter of holding himself to his 2008 campaign promise not to raise taxes on anyone earning under $200k ($250k for a family). It seems he will not propose to do so under cover of lowering marginal raise while scaling back tax expenditures in such a way as to raise taxes on anyone in a very broadly defined "middle class."